Marco Polo Cebu serves Spanish feast
The Marco Polo Plaza Hotel held recently its 11th annual Spanish food festival, “Sabores de España,” at Café Marc.
The opening night was a brilliant occasion covering the entire lobby lounge, which was transformed into a typical tapas bar.
Guests were welcomed with goblets filled with either white or red sangria. That set the right mood. Some did a guessing game of what fruits had been mixed with the wine.
Brian Connelly, the Cebu Marco Polo general manager, gave the welcome address. He posted himself in front of a whole leg of jamon serrano, the top of which was ceremoniously sliced.
Posing with him, also armed with sharp knives, were Amparito Llamas Lhuillier, president of Amigos de España en Cebu, and Gema Luisa Pido, who all these years has been the Marco Polo’s consultant for Spanish cuisine.
Gema had prepared quite an array of tapas, the best of which were the Boqerones Fritos, red peppers stuffed with tuna then breaded and fried, and those deviled eggs, Huevos Rellenos. Plates of thinly sliced jamon serrano were passed around.
Also present was Julie Najar who heads the Cebu operations of the Marco Polo Residences. Until last March she was the general manager of the Marco Polo. She was greatly instrumental in establishing Sabores de España with then GM Hans Hauri.
To animate the evening there were dances from the Val Sandiego group, stomping black boots and rustling colorful ruffles.
Don Gelvez played on his electric violin a repertory of Spanish music. “That’s the ‘Habanera’ from Bizet’s opera ‘Carmen,’” Chinggay Utzurrum appreciatively told Flor Ynclino and Cookie Newman.
Among those present were Amigos de España secretary Myra Gonzalez and treasurer Julina Muertegui; La Chaine des Rotisseurs’ Teresin Mendezona and Dr. Raul Alonso, Paqui Aboitiz and Quina Melendez, Rosebud Sala, Carmen Campbell, chef Alfonso Martinez and his pretty wife Meryl, and Frank and Rebecca Crysjns.
The Marco Polo was well-represented by director of sales and marketing Lara Constantino Scarrow, communications manager Manna Alcaraz, Jude Pangan, Joward Tongco, Barbie Burchards, Yumni Mariot, and public relations officer Febe Campañon.
As the crowd began to thin Amparito and Teresin said to a group of friends, “It’s still early, let us stay a little longer.” And so they settled in a small round table to while away the night, until it was time to, well, say good night.
Spanish cuisine has seen a recent renaissance in Cebu. There’s always the Casino Español, and Gerliz, the concern of David Ugarte and Maite Moraza in Banilad, and LPar’s on Ramos Street. Now, the Crimson Resort in Mactan inaugurated its Spanish specialty restaurant, Enye by Chele Gonzalez, with a formal dinner served last month.
Another dinner was held at El Comedor of Casino Español featuring chef Pablo Escudero’s menu based on the cuisine of Galicia.
Back to the Marco Polo, they are setting up an authentic Chinese restaurant with access from the lobby close to the front desk and elevator areas. It should be operational in time for Chinese New Year 2018.
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